“…and I will shew you a more excellent way.” (1 Corinthians 12:31KJV))
Paul points us to a way how to excel in Christian living and in Christian service. Love is the distinctive mark of an outstanding Christian at least measured by God’s standards.
You may have noticed that the King James Version does not use the word ‘love’ in 1 Corinthians 13 but speaks of ‘charity’ instead. The word ‘charity’ in this use refers to being kind and favourably disposed. It includes being willing to help. Charity is love extended to one’s fellow men, not merely to close friends or relatives.
Why is love so important to the Christian religion? Love is the greatest commandment because God is a God of love.
St. John puts it like this: “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” (1 John 4:8). Any real experience of God will promote loving attitudes. God is love personified. Love is a main feature of God’s character.
Why does Paul speak of love as of a ‘more excellent way’? Christian living or Christian ministry is excellent if it makes evident what God is like.
We might be looking for prominent positions within a church. Perhaps we desire to be respected. We might pursue some self-interest when getting involved in church.
The main issue is not what we do. It is our motivation that matters.
In chapter twelve Paul has listed various gifts of the spirit. Some of these are often called supernatural gifts of the spirit. A Christian may desire some supernatural experience.
Yet there is one prove of somebody really having been in touch with God. It is when God’s character is mirrored in our lives.
Jesus himself said there would be one token by which people could know that somebody has been learning at Jesus feet: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35).